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The Power of Data

How do you make innovation possible when your core business is ensuring 'business as usual’ and making sure the nation’s lights stay on?

In the energy industry, deviating from the status quo, experimenting on the fringes is not possible in the same way it is in, for example, online businesses where innovation with data is commonplace.

One way experimentation and innovation are being made possible in the sector is through analysing the Big Data held by companies like ScottishPower. The company is the industrial partner in one of the first projects to get underway at The Data Lab, one of eight Scottish Innovation Centres funded as part of a £124 million investment by the Scottish Funding Council and supported in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The Power of DataIt’s early days for The Data Lab but the potential for the energy industry is exciting. In energy, as elsewhere, companies are only just starting to understand the opportunities that come with the smart management and analysis of data to support decision-making. For example, in an industry where assets can cost millions of pounds, using data for predictive maintenance has the potential to produce economic benefits for operators and consumers. One crucial question The Data Lab will be helping to answer is how to exploit all the data the industry collects.

Scottish Innovation Centres are focused on industry challenges. They are unique in their ability to bring together research teams that combine sector knowledge with specialist expertise in areas like data science. At a time when research and development departments are often getting smaller, real innovation needs the combined efforts of an ever-larger number of disciplines; it’s an approach in which other countries are taking a big interest.

As Scotland’s energy industry responds to the challenges of the 21st century, the data it collects and sometimes takes for granted may prove to be one of its greatest assets. The race is now on to exploit that asset in a way that gives Scottish businesses and companies operating in Scotland a competitive advantage.

Stuart Fancey, Director of Research and Innovation - 27 Jul 2016